Norman Wisdom Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (38)  | Personal Quotes (44)  | Salary (2)

Overview (4)

Born in Marylebone, London, England, UK
Died in Ballasalla, Isle of Man, UK  (natural causes)
Birth NameNorman Joseph Wisdom
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Norman Wisdom has become the great British clown very much in the mould of Charles Chaplin with his "little man" in the ill fitting suit and cloth cap. His character is "everyman", much put upon but struggling through to a (usually) happy ending. He was brought up in an orphanage after his mother died and his father disowned him. He joined the army where he discovered that his performing ability was appreciated. He has worked variously on stage and screen since 1952. His theme song has become "Don't laugh at me, ('cause I'm a fool)" from the film 'Trouble in Store (1953)'.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

He joined the army at 14 as a band boy and learnt to play the clarinet, drums and xylophone. He went to India with the army in 1941 and became a comedian by clowning around in camp concerts. When demobbed he returned home and decided to try to get on the stage but couldn't find an agent who was interested in him. After marrying his fiancee, Freda, he spent 5 weeks in America searching for an agent and work without success. On his return to Britain he eventually found an agent resulting in him making his first stage appearance at Collins Music Hall on 17th December 1946. Over time his talent and his popularity grew resulting in him making his first major film Trouble in Store in 1953 followed by One Good Turn in 1955. Before long he was writing the screenplays for his films - 8 of them including The Square Peg, Follow a Star, A stitch in Time and The Early Bird. In addition to writing the screenplays he also composed numerous songs including his big hit Don't Laugh At Me

- IMDb Mini Biography By: tonyman5

Spouse (2)

Freda Simpson (October 1947 - 1968) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Doreen Brett (1941 - 1946) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (4)

Lop-sided grin Falling over
"The Gump" character in his ill-fitting suit and cloth cap
His "gump" look - consisting of a tweed cap askewed with peak turned up, too-tight jacket, barely-better trousers, crumpled collar and tie awry.
In many of his films, he fell in love and spent the film trying to work on how to obtain a relationship

Trivia (38)

6th June 2000: Awarded a Knighthood by the Queen, he deliberately tripped as he left the ceromony. The Queen was reported as being very amused by his antics! Norman Wisdom stated: "I couldn't help it, I did a little trip"
He was famous for not being able to complete a joke before bursting into fits of laughter.
He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours List and became a Knight Bachelor in the 2000 Queen's New Year Honours List for his services to Entertainment.
After touring South Africa and Australia with some success, his appearances in Britain became more infrequent. He spent much of the 1980s in seclusion on the Isle of Man.
Lifetime Achievement Award, British Comedy Awards 1992
The song "Don't laugh at me ('cause I'm a fool)" was written by Norman Wisdom for the film Trouble in Store (1953) and became his theme song. He still uses it to close his one man show.
Norman Wisdom Fan Club, PO Box 196, Hoddesdon, Herts, EN10 7WG, United Kingdom.
British Prime Minister, John Major has been referred to as "the Norman Wisdom of Western democracy".
Norman & Doreen had one son, Michael (born 1945), and Norman & Freda had two children, Nick Wisdom (born 1953) and Jaqui Wisdom (born 1954).
Though Norman lives on the Isle of Man he has choosen to continue to pay Tax at the UK rate, not the Isle of Man rates.
Pictured on a set of six Grenada $1.50 postage stamps issued 3 November 2002. Shown in the role of Norman Pitkin, which made him famous in a series of comedy movies.
Tony Award nominee for Best Actor in a Musical for his Broadway show "Walking Happy", in 1967, the show itself being nominated for Best Musical, losing to "Cabaret".
At 14, he left school and walked from London to Cardiff to find work and ended up as a cabin boy on a cargo ship to Argentina and was taught boxing by the crew which later led him to be a Flyweight Boxing Champion when he was in the army.
He pledged to retire completely from show business by his 90th birthday on February 4, 2005. His final TV acting appearance was in the 2004 Christmas special of Last of the Summer Wine (1973).
His 1950s and 60s movies, where his working-class characters typically eventually overcame the oppressive management, were the only Western movies allowed into Albania by the Communist dictatorship of 'Enver Hoxha', who viewed them as a parable for the workers' struggle against capitalism. The Albanian people, however, loved his physical comedy and he became the best-known and loved Western artist in the country. Since the fall of Communism, Wisdom has been involved in much work supporting Albanian children's charities.
Born of very humble beginnings to Frederick, a chauffeur, and Maude Wisdom, a dressmaker. His mother left the family (which included a brother) when he was nine.
Left school at 13 and worked a variety of jobs including an errand boy, a coal-miner, a waiter, a pageboy and a cabin-boy before joining the Army.
His favourite film was Trouble in Store (1953).
In 2007, a Norman Wisdom-themed bar opened at the Sefton Hotel, Douglas, called Sir Norman's. It has stills from his many films on the walls and TV screens playing some of his old films. The bronze statue of Wisdom, which used to be on a bench outside Douglas Town Hall, has been moved to the steps leading into the hotel bar on Harris Promenade.
In 1963, he bought a new motor yacht. The 94 feet (29 m) long hull and superstructure were built in Spain for £80,000, before being towed to Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, for fitting-out. After three years of extensive works and sea trials, she was named M/Y Conquest and valued at £1.25 million by insurers. It was available for charter at £6,000 a month but Wisdom later sold it, saying that he was "no sailor".
He was a lifelong supporter and a former board member of football team Brighton and Hove Albion. He also liked Everton and Newcastle United.
He enjoyed golf, and was a member of the Grand Order of Water Rats.
He was an honorary member of the Winkle Club, a charity in Hastings, East Sussex.
He won many awards including Comic of the Year four times, 2 Broadway awards, the Jersey Critics Award and a Silver Record for most novel records.
He was one of several actors initially considered for the role of Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (1973), however he turned the role down and it eventually went to Michael Crawford. The creator of the series Raymond Allen later stated "Norman Wisdom was offered the role but turned it down because he didn't find it funny".
Made his stage debut at the Coliseum, Portsmouth.
In 1947 was in a Summer Season at Scarborough on a bill that included a conjuror who, having difficulty with part of his act, suggested that Norman come up on stage from the audience to assist him. That was when he bought his 'Gump Suit'.
A lover of cars, his collection included a 1956 Bentley S1 Continental R Type fastback, which he first bought in 1961, and then again in the late 1980s. In 1969, he purchased, after the divorce from Freda Simpson, a Shelby Cobra 427, CSX3206, in New York, which he kept until 1986, when it was sold to another car enthusiast in Brighton, UK. Until his age and declining mental health meant he failed a Department of Transport fitness-to-drive test, he owned and drove a 1987 Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit and a Jaguar S-Type, which were sold in September 2005.
On a visit in 2001, which coincided with the England football team playing Albania in the city of Tirana, his appearance at the training ground overshadowed that of David Beckham. He appeared on the pitch before the start of the Albania v England match wearing a half-Albanian and half-English football shirt. He was well received by the crowd, especially when he performed one of his trademark trips on his way out to the centre circle. In 1995 Wisdom was made an honorary citizen of Tirana.
Whilst his stage performances often involved musical numbers, he wrote only a few of them. He has seven songs attributed to him in the ASCAP database, which are: "Beware", "Don't Laugh at Me ('cause I'm a Fool)", "Falling in Love", "Follow a Star", "I Love You", "Please Opportunity", and "Up in the World".
He was to have played Albert in These Foolish Things (2005), but he decided to retire the day after his 90th Birthday and was replaced by Joss Ackland.
In his book and TV series One Hit Wonderland (2001), Tony Hawks united with Wisdom and, along with Tim Rice, released a single, "Big in Albania", in an attempt to enter the Albanian pop charts. It reached number 18 on the Top Albania Radio chart.
During the 1960s, he was involved in a famous legal case (Wisdom v Chamberlain, 1968) in which he was pursued by the Inland Revenue for tax on profits made from the sale of silver bullion he had bought when concerned about the further devaluation of sterling. He contended that it was an investment but the court held that it had been a trading venture and was duly chargeable to income tax.
Singer Tina Charles, who had a number one with "I Love To Love" in 1976, alleged that Wisdom molested her in his dressing room when she was 16.
A supporter of various charities including Mencap, in 2005 he starred in a video for the Manx girl group Twisted Angels, for their single "LA", in support of the local charity Project 21.
In mid-2006, after he suffered an irregular heart rhythm, Wisdom was flown by helicopter to hospital in Liverpool and was fitted with a heart pacemaker.
His mother and brother Fred both died in 1971.
His children Nick and Jackie had small parts in his film Follow A Star.

Personal Quotes (44)

I can never tell a joke, I've always found it easier to just fall over
"Mr Grimsdale!" (catch phrase when things went wrong)
I had a great day filming Expresso (2007), every minute was worth an hour.
It was absolutely thrilling to meet Laurel and Hardy, they were so nice.
It was smashing working with Jerry Desmonde, he was a very nice chap.
At my age, the radiation will probably do me good.
I don't know nothing about communism. But I know the Albanians loved me. Same reason as anyone else loves me. Because I made them laugh.
I was born in very sorry circumstances. Both of my parents were very sorry.
Such is life and life is such and after all it isn't much. First a cradle. Then a hearse. It might have been better, but it could have been worse.
As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can't remember the other two.
I like consistency. If you've had a childhood like mine, you want some things you can rely on to stay the same.
But no, I've just been very lucky. But I've worked hard, and the harder you work, the luckier you seem to get.
I was in the band as a boy and was taught music and learned to compose.
My comedy is for children from three to 93. You do need a slightly childish sense of humour and if you haven't got that, it's very sad.
I was born in London, and went to school in Scotland - I used to be dead tired when I got home at night.
I've got one idea I want to do for a film and you know I just enjoy myself doing bits and pieces.
I owe everything to the army.
You know I've got a chum, a smashing mate, he's got a dog with no legs, and he calls it a cigarette. It's true, yeah, because at nighttime he has to take it out for a drag.
All my boyhood, all I ever wanted was to be loved.
I used to first go on to entertain an audience. But now I go, and this is really true - I go on to have fun with a crowd of my chums.
I play drums, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, french horn, piano.
I've done seven shows at the Palladium - long running shows I'm talking about.
There are people who like just ordinary comedy fun, and making mistakes - which I do easily - and then there are people who like the falling over.
You see I'm semi-retired now and don't work all the time, only most of it!
I've always had a sense of humour, and I still do, so I just want to go on performing as long as I can. It's as simple as that.
I'm still constantly thinking of ideas. I don't feel 90. I think I'm about 12.
I do play drums when I'm on tour.
I've been extremely lucky having been in the army when I was a boy of fourteen.
My only phobia is untidiness. My hair has to be neatly kept; my shoes are always clean. Everything has to be in a straight line, in its place.
Well if I was going to describe my audience, it's going to take longer than you'd ever expect, hundreds of years in fact, because there's many of them, all over the world.
I must admit I like to muck around a bit; I always have.
Of course I've done musicals here in London.
I believe in physical comedy, because that reaches out most to people.
I have a folder where I keep all the articles the critics have written about me. It makes me feel good.
I've been making people laugh for 40 years, so I know how important it is!
Most of my comedies were low on budgets - certainly by American standards.
What I like doing most is making children laugh.
When you're as famous as I am, stories take on a life of their own.
Don't get me wrong: I'm overjoyed with my career to date. But perhaps I could have done more. Mostly, I just did whatever the directors told me to do.
My father used to be away for months at a time, and he'd never leave any money for food, so my brother and I had to go out and nick it.
In fact, one was so booked out we went from March and were to go till November, but the pantomime was booked so they transferred the show to the Prince of Wales Theatre because it was so packed out, and it ran on from there.
Years ago, there was a variety theatre in every British town, and people paid to go down and see it. Comedy was the main part of the theatre, and comedians earned a living by being funny. Now you have comedy in television instead. Comedians now have to be funny within a play.
I've an idea for doing a Situation Comedy myself but its always difficult to get people to listen to you because they like to put their own ideas forward.
I still regard myself as a short-arse who's been lucky, although I've worked for it.

Salary (2)

Episode dated 22 November 1947 (1947) £15
Trouble in Store (1953) £5,000

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